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One of the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks is that we can now clearly see what a poisonous cancer the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is. It provides terrorists with justification for their actions, helps them fan hatred for the U.S., recruit new members and raise funds for their evil deeds. It's equally clear that the Israelis and Palestinians are unable to settle this on their own, and that the situation is spiraling out of control. It's time for the international community to step in. Here are some suggestions.

First, the United Nations should send in an international peace-keeping force - to separate the two sides, and stop the stupid cycle of outrage and reprisal. The Palestinians have requested this, but the Israelis have refused. If necessary, the U.S. may have to persuade the Israelis - reminding them of the large amounts of military and economic aid we send them, and of the losses that we recently suffered as an indirect result of this conflict.

The U.N. should also establish a Palestinian protectorate - setting the boundary for what could become a future Palestinian state. The U.N. would need to assist the current Palestinian authorities in establishing civil control, and in disarming the population and apprehending terrorists. Economic aid needs to be provided by the international community to rebuild the damage wrought by this conflict, and give the Palestinians hope of future prosperity that peace will bring.

Furthermore, all Jewish settlers need to be moved from the West Bank settlements. The settlements are a constant source of conflict and resentment, and their continued presence prevents any future peace. The city of Jerusalem also needs to be declared an international city - not controlled by either side - to remove it as a political football in the negotiations. The U.N. could administer the city, with joint Israeli and Palestinian representation.

This conflict has poisoned the prospects for peace in the Middle East ever since 1948 when the Jewish state was created. It's long past time that this cancer was cured, and a just and lasting peace established to replace it.



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